A little less than two hours; a little less than twenty miles on the scooter. 2,638 access points cataloged; 1,100 without encryption.

Wardriving is the pastime of driving around and surveying wireless access points. The name is based on ‘wardialing’, the old-time act of dialing every number in an exchange to see which ones had modems attached. An access point is any place where someone has plugged in a wireless router or hub.

I’ve been becoming more interested in wireless security, so I decided to check out wardriving. With my new tablet PC, I can set up a very compact and discreet scanning rig, consisting of the PC, an external high-gain antenna, and a GPS, all tucked into a backpack.

My initial experiments were from the apartment. From my front window, I could ‘see’ 27 access points. From all of the windows in the apartment, 86. In all cases, just under half of the access points were not using encryption; anyone could connect to them.

Driving down the peninsula and over to the east bay yesterday, in about forty-five minutes I communicated with over 1400 access points, just sweeping the right-hand side of the road.

I spent a few hours yesterday trying to survey wireless points by goped but the computer kept shutting down. I finally realized it was a heat issue and dealt with that by having the fan stay on all the time and aligning the exhaust from the notebook out an opening of my backpack. The antenna is a directional antenna and aims straight out the back; though I think I’d get more returns if I angled the antenna to one side and then did sweeps.

This is interesting, though extremely pointless. I think I’ll put this to work back home, though. Not the scooter part, of course.

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